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Choosing the Right AAC Device for Early Learners

Giving a voice to every child is essential. For young learners struggling to communicate, Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices can be transformative. This guide dives into Single and Multi-Message Communicators, helping you find the ideal tool that matches each child's unique abilities. With an AAC device, your child can express themselves, make choices, and have fun participating in the world around them!

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Wireless Switches

When considering which switch to purchase, it would be advisable to check whether a wireless version of the switch you require is available. Using a wireless switch will allow an individual to move the switch to a suitable position without also having to relocate the accompanying switch cable. 

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Wired Switches

In its most common form, a wired switch is a button shaped device with a 3.5mm jack plug lead. To access a PC, the lead connects to an interface, or it can be plugged directly into a switch adapted product, an interactive toy, for example.

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Specialist Switches

It may be necessary to consider a different type of switch when a button switch proves not to be suitable for the individual. In this respect there are many specialist switches available, in different shapes and sizes, that require varying amounts of pressure to activate.

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Who uses a switch?

Switch access is commonly used by individuals with motor disabilities and cognitive disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and autism, who cannot access a mouse, keyboard, touch screen or alternative access method.

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Which switch?

There are various factors to consider when selecting the correct switch. Whether choosing between size, colour, wired or wireless and the activation force required to press the switch, it’s important to identify the individuals needs and requirements to determine which switch is the most suitable for them.

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What is a switch?

A switch is an assistive technology device that is commonly used by those with physical or cognitive difficulties to operate computer software, mains powered devices, battery toys, communication devices and more.

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Seating and Positioning

It is important to be correctly seated while using a computer. A comfortable working position will help with concentration, quality of work, and reduce the risk of long-term problems such as repetitive strain injury. This is important for all who use computers, and especially so for those with disabilities.

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Head Pointers

Head Pointers are devices which allow the movement of the mouse pointer to be controlled by voluntary head movements. A typical headpointing system comprises of a special camera which sits on monitor or laptop screen, small reflective dots that are placed on the user's forehead, glasses or finger and specialist software which coverts head movements into mouse movements and handles button clicking. 

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Touch Monitors

The computer mouse is so familiar to all of us that it has become a perfectly sensible and easy way to use our computers. So much so that when we ask someone with learning difficulties or disabilities to use a computer we seldom think about the complexity of the task we are asking them to do. 

Just operating a mouse involves complex motor, sequencing and spatial skills. For some software the mouse skills may be at a higher cognitive level than the program they are trying to use. Substituting a different device such as a roller ball may make the physical task easier but will not simplify the cognitive task.